April 6, 2003
High school project puts laughter's healing power in hands of Methodist Rehabilitation Center patients
By Lisa Uzzle Gates
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON—Most seniors at Northwest Rankin High School don’t consider their final project a laughing matter, but Alex McIntosh may beg to differ.
His project studies the effects of humor and laughter on the body during convalescence or illness.
A prerequisite for graduation, the final project requires students to write a research paper, work with mentors, develop a product that will benefit the community and defend their conclusions before a committee.
To try out his “product,” McIntosh donated a collection of humorous audio tapes and books to Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson. Now, hospital patients can get a laugh from the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman, as well as radio comedians from the 1930s and 1940s.
“I went to members of the medical community and got donations to purchase the materials,” McIntosh said. “I’m still working on getting a portable CD player to give to the hospital.”
McIntosh donated the materials to test his theory that laughter and humor can help people heal.
Patients are able to check out the materials from the hospital’s book cart, which normally features more serious-minded publications, said Sandra Walker, director of volunteer services “This will be a good change of pace,” Walker said. “Patients are often here for an extended stay, and it can be a difficult time. It’s nice to be able to offer something that will give them a good laugh. And with everything that’s going on in the world, this comes at a great time.”
Dr. Rahul Vohra, medical director for Methodist Rehab, won’t promise that a good chuckle with Jay Leno will cure anybody, but he said there are connections between patients’ mental state and their recovery.
“I think that patient attitudes have a significant impact on their overall prognosis,” Vohra said. “We know that patients who are depressed do worse functionally than patients who are not depressed.” Vohra said studies have proven stroke patients who suffer from depression do not fare as well in the long term as patients who are not depressed.
“We were very pleased Alex thought of Methodist Rehabilitation Center when he was making this donation, “ said Lisa Uzzle Gates, the hospital’s special events coordinator. ”We’ve already seen quite a bit of interest from the patients.”
Bobby Wolfe, a patient recovering from surgery at the Jackson hospital, said he was impressed with McIntosh’s selection of material, especially the old time radio comedians. “I think it’s great. He’s made some good choices,” Wolfe said.
McIntosh, 18, will attend Mississippi State University this fall on the Schilling Leadership Scholarship and hopes to enter the medical field. He is a National Merit Finalist, a pitcher for the Northwest Rankin High School baseball team and an active member of Christ United Methodist Church.
Debra McIntosh said her son chose Methodist Rehab as the recipient of his donation because the family has a long history with the Methodist faith and has always been supportive of the hospital’s mission.
“I am so glad he choose MRC for the community service part of his senior project...It is good for Alex to see the professional and agency ministries of his denomination,” Debra McIntosh said. “We hope the volunteers and patients at MRC can benefit from a few extra chuckles, and maybe even belly-laughs, as they rehab and adapt to their new circumstances there.”
For more information:
Students give back with senior projects | The Clarion-Ledger
As part of his school project, Alex McIntosh donated a collection of humorous audio tapes and books to Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson. Northwest Rankin High School student's project studies the effects of humor and laughter on the body during convalescence or illness.